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• Jew­ish Phy­si­cians in the Third Reich, Chapters I-V
• Jew­ish Phy­si­cians in the Third Reich, Chapters VI-X

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• Jüdi­sche Ärz­te im Drit­ten Reich, Kapitel I-V
• Jüdi­sche Ärz­te im Drit­ten Reich, Kapitel VI-X

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Siegfried Ostrowski
The Fate of Jewish Physicians in the Third Reich

An Eyewitness Account from the Years 1933-1939

[VI]  Schneidemühl — Autumn 1937

How incomparably more difficult the situation of the Jews of that time was in the small towns may be shown by the following.

On Yom Kippur evening in 1937, my young colleague Sommerfeld urgently asked me to visit his father in Schneidemühl in the Grenzmark, who had suddenly fallen seriously ill. The father was the chairman of the Jewish community there. Since, as the description indicated, it was a case of life or death, I drove there and at midnight examined the sick man, whose condition was indeed so threatening that I declared an immediate operation at the place to be necessary. The only private clinic available refused my request to perform the operation on their premises, saying that they would not accept Jews. Fortunately, the chief surgeon of the local city hospital, who was known to be a gross anti-Semite, was out of town that night. The young senior physician of the surgical department, in Nazi uniform, who knew me by name from Berlin, behaved correctly. Although he regretted that he could not entrust me with the performance of the operation, he was prepared to perform the operation in my presence. The immediate help saved the patient's life. The young physician, for whom this was probably the first operation of this kind, even thanked me for my advice given during the operation.

Late at night, before my journey home, the patient's relatives told me about the "life" of the small Jewish community in Schneidemühl. The town had always been one of the strongholds of anti-Semitism in the Grenzmark. On that Yom Kippur night, only a few candles burned in the synagogue because the small congregation gathered there wanted to avoid any stir. During the service, the pastor of the local Protestant Confessing Church and his sexton made the guard rounds around the synagogue to protect the Jews from possible attacks. The people I was conversing with told me that the dead could only be buried secretly after dark. If it were done during the day, "Christian" youths would dance in front of the funeral procession, jeering loudly and expressing their joy that there was one less Jew in the world! Even the living hardly went outdoors during the day.

My patient's sudden serious illness had been considerably contributed to by a trip to Berlin, two days earlier, which could not be postponed. He had traveled to the capital in his capacity as head of the community to visit the Ministry of the Interior. The reason for this difficult trip was the outrageous request of the local Nazi authorities to the Jewish community to exhume the dead of the old Jewish cemetery there within a fortnight and to rebury them elsewhere. The Nazi officials of the government building adjacent to the cemetery grounds had declared that they could not be expected to see Jewish graves on a daily basis. Sommerfeld managed to get the Ministry of the Interior to revoke the inhumane order, but returned home sick from the excitement.

[VII]  The 25 July 1938

Since the Nazi takeover, Germany's Jews witnessed and were victims of a flood of decrees and laws, ranging from their declassification as "non-Aryans," to their exclusion from civil service and study, to their separation by the "Nuremberg Laws" as "nationals" without "Reich citizenship rights" (15 September 1935), and finally to their removal from all professions. For Jewish physicians, the blow came with the Fourth Decree to the Reich Citizenship Law of 25 July 1938, by which, effective 30 September of the same year, their license to practice medicine was taken away. Exceptions were only permitted "on the suggestion of the Reich Medical Association" but "revocably". All Jewish physicians who did not receive such a temporary license were henceforth "forbidden to practice medicine." And even if a special permit was available, the Jewish doctor was allowed to "treat Jews only." This decree was signed by "The Führer and Reich Chancellor" in Bayreuth of all places.

Jewish dentists, veterinarians and pharmacists had their license to practice medicine revoked by the Eighth Ordinance to the Reich Citizenship Law of January 17, 1939, which also decreed that Jewish "assistants in health care" could only work among Jews.

Although previous Nazi measures had led us to expect this, these decrees came as a shock to most of us, especially to the older generation. Those who had practiced the medical profession for a long time, with the awareness of their professional duty and mission, which had been so particularly developed for them, far beyond financial aspects, could hardly understand that from now on they were "forbidden" to help people in the German Reich. The resulting distress took on tragic forms among many old physicians, especially among those who were under the illusion that the ban did not affect them personally for some reason.

Prior to the enactment of these laws, it was widely believed that even a Nazi regime would not want to do without Jewish physicians, at least in the event of war, especially since there were a large number of them who had gained experience as front-line physicians in the First World War. This opinion seems to have been widespread for some time in officer circles as well. When the provocations of the Nazis against Czechoslovakia made the danger of war acute, the Surgeon General of the German Army summoned the leading surgeons of the Berlin hospitals (including a colleague who was a friend of mine and from whom I received this information) to an urgent secret meeting to discuss the state of preparations in the field medical service for the event of war. It turned out that there was no question of real preparations in this area, which was also admitted "from above". When one of the invited physicians pointed out that former Jewish department heads might have to be recalled to the hospitals if their "Aryan" colleagues were called up for field service, the military chairman remarked that this had already been discussed, but that no decision had yet been reached. Then we were banned from our profession, possibly influenced by the fact that the Munich Agreement, which had been concluded in the meantime, made the war avoidable, or at least not imminent, and therefore made our deployment seem superfluous.

For the care of Jews who had not yet emigrated — at the time of the imposition of the ban on Jewish doctors still about half of the former German Jewry — a limited number of doctors were "newly admitted". "Considered" in this regard by the responsible Nazi authority were only applications from Jewish physicians who were married to non-Jewish women or, most nonsensically and cynically, were of particularly advanced age (between 70 and 80 years). Many younger and qualified specialists remained excluded.

I still remember the nerve-racking waiting time during which telephone calls went back and forth between us, trying to find out among our colleagues who had received a positive or negative response to their application. Some of the colleagues did not even apply for this "re-admission".

Already after the publication of the "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service", by which the non-war participants of the 1914-1918 war among us were excluded from panel practice, we Jewish colleagues had discussed whether we should not collectively refrain from further practice out of a sense of solidarity for the affected physicians. Such a decision taken at that time would, one might think, have had far more than a moral significance. Perhaps its consequence would have been that, at a time when this was still possible, a far greater number of Jewish physicians would have decided to emigrate instead of indulging in illusions of privilege, which only delayed the process of dissolution of the Jewish medical profession in Germany and did not prevent the physical annihilation of the gullible in the end. In such considerations, however, one forgets the large number of Jews still remaining in Germany who were in need of medical help. Although they were initially able to receive this help from non-Jewish doctors, they soon had to rely exclusively on Jewish doctors.

Of the few exceptional cases known to me in which non-Jewish physicians continued to treat Jewish patients despite the threat of repressive measures against them, I would like to highlight the following: My teacher, the ophthalmologist Professor Krückmann, formerly full professor of ophthalmology at the Berlin University, treated Jewish patients to the end without regard to Nazi criticism, often without fee, and even, as I learned from a reliable source, once visited a Jewish patient in prison when she was arrested for alleged foreign exchange offenses.

The surgeon Professor Otto Nordmann also remained helpful. He was an old democrat, who had given up his position as head surgeon at the Municipal Hospital Berlin-Schöneberg and became head surgeon of the denominational Martin Luther Hospital, because — at least initially — the Nazi doctrines had not yet found their way in there. Another surgeon, Professor Erwin Gohrbandt, with whom I am still on friendly terms, proved to be just as human; the same applies to Professor Georg Hohmann, Munich, the great physician and humanist. It should also be mentioned that the Catholic Hospital in the Grossen Hamburger Strasse still accepted Jewish patients late and without restriction and treated them excellently.

Finally, a man should be remembered here who lost his position at the Rudolf Virchow Hospital because of the courageous and selfless help he gave to a Jew. This man, Professor Anders, had to perform the autopsy of the Jewish merchant Neumann, who had been bestially tortured by the Nazis and who, brought from Königsberg in a hopeless condition to the Normannsche Klinik, succumbed to his injuries there. The case caused a general sensation and horror at that time. The postmortem findings were urgently requested by the defense of one of my relatives, who had been arrested for spreading "atrocity tales". He had committed the imprudence of making critical remarks about this Neumann case to a person unknown to him, and had been denounced by him. The "Zentralverein deutscher Staatsbürger jüdischen Glaubens" (Central Association of German Citizens of the Jewish Faith), whose energetic efforts on behalf of its Jewish fellow citizens at this time deserve all praise, found with difficulty a Christian lawyer in Königsberg, who took on the defense with remarkable courage for the time. In the trial in Bingen, which was conducted in camera, the defendant got off with a relatively mild sentence, probably only thanks to the fact that the courageous and intrepid Professor Anders had provided the defense attorney with the postmortem findings, which irrefutably proved the truth of the allegations of mistreatment made by the defendant. Professor Anders, however, as said, was punished for this selfless act by losing his position.

[VIII]  Medicine under a state of emergency

The handling of the selection of Jewish physicians for "re-admission", already described above, was intolerable not only because so many of the best physicians remained excluded from any professional activity, but also with regard to the completely insufficient number of available physicians for the general as well as specialist care of the Jewish population on the whole. It was thanks to the exemplary efforts of Heinrich Stahl, the unforgettable chairman of the Berlin community, together with those of Professor Seligmann, that specialists and clinicians were finally admitted to such an extent that at least in the community polyclinics and in the hospital qualified head physicians and assistants were able to work again. I still possess the so-called "Gestattung", the re-admission certificate from those days, a document of National Socialist brutality that is remarkable in both form and content. The certificate does not bear a salutation, it is signed by a subordinate official, and it was issued for revocation. The newly admitted is called "Behandler," no longer doctor. He was only allowed to treat Jews. This had to be printed in a visible place on every document, prescription, letter or envelope. A Star of David surrounded by a circle had to be placed in front of the imprint.

Name signs on the house were permitted, but had to show a blue Star of David in a yellow circle of prescribed size in the upper left corner. The color of the sign had to be light blue, the inscription — again in prescribed size — had to identify the owner as a treatment provider exclusively for Jews. Even the size of the sign was specified precisely in centimeters. Such a short deadline was set for the placement of these signs (noncompliance automatically led to cancellation of the license!) that, without suitable models and as a result of the lack of materials and willing sign painters, some colleagues had great difficulty in placing this marking on the house in time. Since my sign was not finished "on time", a helpful young man made me a cardboard sign that was reasonably compliant with the regulations, which initially had to serve as a temporary measure.

The sight of these signs had a very different effect on the surprised population. The German of the prescribed sign text was unclear enough to still bring isolated non-Jewish patients into the consultation offices of Jewish doctors. It was not always easy to sort them out among the Jewish patients, especially since I know of cases in which "Aryan" patients pretended to be Jews in order to continue being treated by Jewish doctors. However, since we could also expect provocateurs who would prove that we had violated the Nazi laws and thus lose our practice, we decided to have the patients confirm in writing that they were Jews according to the racial law. Most of us used pre-printed forms for this purpose, which we always presented to everyone for signature.

Among the most incomprehensible restrictions for Jewish physicians was the prohibition of the establishment of bacterial cultures and the performance of Wassermann's reaction. Especially the meaning of the former has never become clear. Was it to prevent us from earning money through such examinations? Or did they really think that we could use bacterial cultures to poison "Aryans" in the end? Did they even think of a future bacterial war? We never found out the answer.

Characteristic for the ambivalent attitude of the non-Jewish population towards our fate seemed to me the following episode. My last non-Jewish patient said goodbye to me in September 1938. After she had paid the bill and thanked me for my help, she left with the remark: "I would like to tell you, Doctor, who have been so helpful to me, that my husband and I are against the Jewish laws. My husband used to say, 'If they had been tolerated for so long, they could have been tolerated further.'" This statement by a simple woman, which was probably basically well-intentioned, has a lot in common with another one that was often heard at that time, when it was said: "The long-established Jews should have been spared. With those who immigrated after the First World War, it is a different matter."

[IX]  The pogrom of 10 November 1938

So much has already been written about this day of doom in the history of the German Jews that I may limit myself here to events in the field of medical activity. The Nazis had been waiting for an opportunity to take action against the Jews for a long time. Therefore, the shooting of the legation councilor vom Rath in Paris by Herschel Grynspan was nothing more than a welcome occasion. A Christian friend of mine confirmed this to me when she told me that a public prosecutor she knew had inspected the concentration camps for the reception of Jews on behalf of the government some time before the pogrom in order to determine whether everything was prepared. We became aware of the first arrests of Jews in Berlin on the afternoon of 9 November. Most of the arrests, however, took place on 10 November and the following days. The majority of the unfortunates consisted of wealthy people, or leading figures in the business world, and members of the liberal professions, among them, of course, many doctors. Most of those arrested were taken to the Buchenwald camp near Weimar and the Oranienburg camp near Berlin, or more precisely to the Sachsenhausen camp, which has since gone down in the annals of horror. If there were an unusually large number of doctors among those arrested in Berlin, one cannot be wrong in assuming that the Nazis did this intentionally, fully aware that they were depriving a large number of Jewish patients of medical care.

Since a colleague had warned me by telephone on the afternoon of 9 November 9, I spent that night with a widowed relative, just as many other Jewish men hid with single women in those days, since the search commandos did not search for women. Threatened persons did not use their private telephones, but public telephones. Since these were consequently surrounded throughout the night, they could actually have facilitated the Nazis' capture work, but at that date they searched only on the basis of lists, instead of — as they did later — combing streets, railroad stations, and public transportation for Jews.

The search zeal of the personnel engaged in the hunt for the victims registered on the lists varied. In some cases they did not come back if they did not find the victim the first time, in other cases they repeated the "visit". They threatened my wife that my situation would worsen if she refused to provide information about my whereabouts. An old medical officer narrowly escaped his fate. When he returned to his apartment and heard that he had been asked for, he behaved like a "good citizen" and went to the nearest police station to find out the purpose of the "inquiry". With difficulty, the old police officer on duty was able to make it clear to him that he was not interested in the question at all, but that the questioner should leave the station as soon as possible — without going home. Some of the officers in charge of this manhunt were visibly uncomfortable with their task and tried to comfort the relatives by saying that the father of the family would soon be released. In some rare cases, these officers even gave those to be arrested an opportunity to escape to safety. During these days and nights, many men wandered around in suburban streets where they had no reason to fear being recognized, especially in the Grunewald forest, or they constantly changed their quarters.

Under such conditions, even doctors who were still at liberty were hardly able to fulfill their professional duties. And how great was the freedom of movement, even for the most courageous, when SS guards and "rolling squads", posted in the dark shade of houses and trees, stopped every evening passerby "suspected" of being a Jew, in order to drag him away if the suspicion was confirmed? On the night of 9-10 November, I was called urgently by telephone to a small patient in a suburb of Berlin-W. The child had fled with her family from Nuremberg to Berlin. After an arduous walk, constantly dodging SS patrols, I reached my destination. I diagnosed appendicitis, which had already broken through and should have been operated on immediately. But this was impossible — especially because of transport difficulties under the prevailing conditions. It was not until noon the following day that I was able to perform the operation which just saved the child's life. Shortly before my arrival at the little patient's apartment, her father had been arrested. While I was performing the operation, a commando appeared in my apartment who was supposed to arrest me, but for this reason did not find me and did not return. So the child saved me.

In those fear-filled days, Jewish private clinics and hospitals became places of refuge for those in danger. Soon, however, no one could be admitted anymore. People with long-standing ailments who were not in need of urgent surgical treatment pleaded for an operation because they thought they would be safe from the hands of the henchmen as those who had been operated on. The risk of a serious operation seemed to them an advantage compared to that of being transported to a concentration camp. While there was actually no search in Berlin Jewish clinics, things were quite different in the provinces. From Breslau, for example, I was told how sick people whose temperature did not exceed 38 degrees were ruthlessly taken out, even those who had just been operated on. The Gauleiter of Silesia was ruthlessly unrestrained.

I will only share one scene I experienced myself about the 10th of November, the Reich Pogrom Day. The morning of that day turned the city of Berlin into a madhouse, ruled by the hooded, unrecognizable bands that Julius Streicher had sent especially for this large-scale action. According to their lists, the masked vandals had made Jewish firms recognizable by invective inscriptions in advance. Now they set out with iron bars and began a blind work of destruction, first of the store windows, then of the inventory of the stores, accompanied by looting. The police were forbidden to intervene, and they watched the wild activities, just as they had watched the burning of the synagogues. The population of Berlin took almost no part in the destruction, only standing there in dense heaps, mute and amazed. The few who expressed their displeasure were arrested.

My place of work at the time, the Jewish Community Polyclinic on Alexanderplatz, had also been largely vandalized. The first employees who arrived in the morning to open the clinic found a scene of violent destruction and summoned me by telephone. I found the staff assembled — as far as they had been able to come — but in a completely distraught condition. Of the institute, which had been built up with great love and effort, hardly anything was intact except the bare walls and parts of the X-ray and physical therapy departments. The only "consideration" the vandals had taken was that they had not set fire to the clinic as well (and that only thanks to the fact that it was located in the middle building of a large block of factories and business houses on the second floor, thus surrounded by non-Jewish property). The heavy iron entrance gate of the institute had been blown open, most of the furniture had been smashed, and even the large hospital register, which had been carefully kept for years, had been destroyed. Masses of shredded leaves piled up with the debris of the clinic equipment down in the courtyards, where everything that was not nailed down had been thrown through the windows. The polyclinic had become non-functional.

What would the young Indian guest doctor have said to this sight, from whom an anti-Semitic scene in the clinic had once before elicited the exclamation: "Like in the jungle"? An old non-Jewish master locksmith, who was called in to at least make the entrance doors lockable again, slapped his hands together at the sight: "If I hadn't seen this myself, I wouldn't believe it."

My staff, who had become unemployed, were distributed, as far as possible, among various departments of the Iranische Strasse Community Hospital.

[X]  In the hospital of the Berlin Jewish community • (No­vem­ber 1938 until August 1939)

While still in the polyclinic, I received an urgent request from the community health department to take over the management of the surgical department of the community hospital. The previous director, Professor Paul Rosenstein, who had long before expressed the wish that I should one day become his successor, had just managed to get out of Germany in a position of grave danger. The hospital had remained untouched by the riots, but its doctors and staff were in a highly depressed mood. Professor Albert Salomon, the head of the hospital's surgical polyclinic, had been deported to Oranienburg, and several senior physicians, assistants and nurses were about to emigrate. A great help for me when I took over my office was the newly appointed administrator Triest, a prudent man, open to all suggestions for improvement, who kept the word he gave when he took up his post that he would not emigrate and would do everything necessary to maintain an orderly operation, and who sacrificed himself in quiet heroism to this task. He deserves to be remembered with honor.

The continuing loss of experienced doctors and nurses could hardly be compensated by new staff. The particularly pressing problem of replacing surgical nurses was partly solved by rehiring veteran nurses, some of whom had left the service long before because they got married. The increase in Jewish patients from Berlin itself, but now also from the provinces, forced a substantial expansion of the surgical department, which (including the urological department) grew to 150 beds. With great difficulty, the central laundry was brought back to full function. However, the supply of the necessary drugs was particularly endangered. With great difficulty Professor Seligmann and I were able to prevent a planned closure of our in-house pharmacy by the Nazi authorities, but the supply of medicaments became more and more difficult. In part, the suppliers feared contact with Jews and, for example, used delivery vans without company inscriptions, but in part, direct relations with Jews no longer suited them, such as the aryanized "Hageda", the trading company of German pharmacists, which in September 1938 simply canceled the lease on the apartment I had occupied for years in one of its houses after I lost my license to practice medicine. Hageda did not withdraw this notice even when it would have been quite capable of doing so after my re-licensing. Now they sent their drug representatives to us through the back door. To do without Jewish money: surely they did not want to go that far!

The head of the gynecological and obstetrical department of the hospital at that time was Dr. Siegbert Joseph, who had previously been an assistant at Moabit Hospital at the same time as me. After the end of the Second World War, we learned of his tragic death during a Russian bombardment of the Libau concentration camp.

The laboratory was headed by Professor Martin Jacoby, who had previously held the same position in Moabit and was as excellent a scientist as he was a goodhuman being. The X-ray department was under the supervision of Dr. Joseph Ziegler. The director of the internal department was Professor Hermann Strauss, world-famous as a researcher and inventor of the rectoscope, who was deported to Theresienstadt and died there a few months before liberation. Other leading physicians include the eminent hematologist Professor Hans Hirschfeld (who was also deported to Theresienstadt), the pediatrician Dr. Orgler, his successor Dr. Oskar Rosenberg (who survived Theresienstadt and is now, in his old age, the director of the Jewish Hospital in Berlin), the ear specialist Dr. Else Levy (who was betrayed in her hiding place and perished) and Dr. Paul Meier, former senior physician of the Strassmann Clinic, whom his Christian wife saved through the years 1940-1945, who then became head of the women's department of the Schöneberg Hospital and now lives in old age in West Berlin.

The emigration of many leading physicians of the community polyclinic at Alexanderplatz — or "Krankenhilfe", as it was now only allowed to call itself — and the polyclinic of the hospital naturally made regular work extremely difficult as a result of the frequent personnel changes this caused. Only a few of the veteran nurses remained at their posts. I would like to make special mention of the head nurse Rita Stein (surgical department), the head nurse Rosa Heimann (urological department) and the head nurse of the private ward Friedel Reichmann with her exemplary performance. With difficulty, I succeeded in persuading these three excellent female staff members to emigrate to England when the situation became hopeless for them. Nurse Rosa was welcomed in Israel a few years ago as an honored guest by the former doctors and nurses of the Jewish Hospital Berlin who were living here. Nurse Friedel came to Israel with her daughter, who is also a nurse, in 1948 and has lived in the country ever since.

The Central Organization of Nurses in England had immediately agreed to accept Jewish registered nurses. From later letters of such Jewish nurses we learned that they were initially dismissed at the outbreak of the war, but then, because of the shortage of personnel in this profession in England, they were rehired. The readiness of the English nurses to help their refugee colleagues went as far as providing professional clothing free of charge.

The remaining Jewish population helped tirelessly with material and financial donations, especially in the area of the community's social institutions, whose continued existence was devotedly ensured by the community board with Heinrich Stahl at its head. In spite of various changes in this board, the Nazis kept Stahl in office until his deportation to Theresienstadt, where he died on 4 November 1942. The respect the Nazis had for him is shown by the fact that they repeatedly allowed him to make trips abroad that served the interests of the Jews still remaining in Berlin. Among the mounting concerns of the community leadership — with the steadfast Heinrich Stahl as its ever firm pole — the continuation of hospital operations was one of the greatest. The financial burden it imposed on the community budget alone was heavy enough. Added to this were the increasingly nonsensical harassments with their constant "new ordinances", which literally confronted one with completely new problems every day. The aforementioned coordinator of the health service, Professor Seligmann, had to obtain the approvals of a special Nazi commissioner in all matters, administrative and financial, who, however, as far as I can remember, hardly hindered the administration.

Among the harassments that incriminated us was a particularly provocative one. A "Nazi cell" had also been established in the hospital, a mandatory control point for all Jewish businesses that employed "Aryans." Non-Jewish employees had been working in the hospital for years, such as the machine foreman, who was now the cell leader. We therefore had to exercise great caution to avoid denunciations. The existence of this surveillance cell, not to say "informer" cell, also made itself felt, among other things, through anti-Semitic postings on the bulletin board in the hospital entrance. We ourselves were forced to put up a warning poster asking Jewish patients and visitors to use the shortest, straightest way across the street to the other side when leaving the hospital. Outside, invisible to passers-by, two policemen were posted simply to fine those pedestrians who did not strictly follow this instruction and, for example, walked across the street, for "violating the traffic regulations." This wanton Jewish regulation was a mean trap in two ways. First, this street was almost always deserted and hardly ever traveled, thus virtually inviting "transgression" of the regulation; second, however, such a transgression was punishable for Jews by a fine of 30 marks (for non-Jews it was only 5 marks), with the intended bonus that the person concerned was entered in the police files as having a "criminal record".

On 10 November 1938, I took over the surgical department of the hospital. My main co-workers were the senior physician Dr. Erich Fischer and the first assistant Dr. Hans Knapp. The building was overflowing with patients, among them some rabbis, to whom — in the notoriously particularly endangered situation of their profession — our hospital served as a refuge. Their coming and going became for us virtually an indicator of the persecution situation outside.

The Department of Internal Medicine was equally busy; and was headed for many years by Professor Strauss, the Privy Councillor. When I expressed my astonishment and admiration to Professor Strauss at our first meeting in view of the unusual work performance at his age, he said full of excitement: "The last year with its incessant excitement has made me an old man. To have to treat daily suicide attempts, by gas and sleeping pills, often in vain, is too strenuous even for the sturdiest."

I worked together with Professor Strauss in an exemplary manner. When I later asked him about plans to emigrate, he firmly rejected this path for himself, pointing to his age and the thirty-year connection with his Berlin activities. During a visit to Palestine, even his former assistants living there had not been able to persuade him to stay. The memory of the unfortunately short period of cooperation with this extraordinary man remains an unforgettable distinction for me.

The closure of almost all Jewish hospitals in the province (with the exception of Breslau, Cologne and Hanover) quickly swelled the workload of the surgical department. However, I was able to maintain an orderly operation. Our hospital, like all hospitals, had to participate in air-raid drills, for which we were also supplied with 250 gas masks. The "medical leader" Dr. Conti, with a large entourage, visited our hospital and paid "highest personal" tribute to our administrative art. In the meantime, the state examinations for graduates of the nursing school affiliated with us were still taking place in the presence of a government representative.

These examples show the typical mixture of long-established official correctness with the most brutal will to persecute, which was characteristic of the Nazis. If, as I have said, Berlin was spared the scenes of Jewish patients being dragged out of the hospitals on Pogrom Day, the reason for this is probably to be found in the presence of many foreigners. The same different treatment of the Jews during these days was also evident in the fact that in the province, far beyond the demolition of Jewish stores, private residences were not spared either, but above all, a great many abuses and murders were reported. Injured pogrom victims were transferred to our hospital if possible. According to my recollection, the first person to be brought in from the provinces in this lamentable condition was the synagogue servant of a small Thuringian community, who had received a chest shot, fortunately not life-threatening. He told me how it had come about: Nazis, with the local group leader at their head, had first entered the synagogue and set it on fire. Then they broke into the community center next door, where he lived with his family, and made his wife and children watch as they lined him up against the wall, the group leader shot him first in the chest, then another (which happened to hit his pocket watch), and then, seeing that he was still alive, dragged him out into the street. Bleeding, they dragged him through the little town and left him lying somewhere. Compassionate Christians gave him first aid and arranged for his transport to the Berlin Jewish Hospital.

At first, we were only informed by rumor about the fate of those deported to the concentration camps during the pogrom. Soon, however, the first victims were brought to us from the concentration camp 0ranienburg-Sachsenhausen, which was close to Berlin. The number of these admissions grew steadily. At first, hardly any of them dared to speak, let alone tell what had been done to them. They were so frightened that even in bed, when spoken to, they adopted a "military posture" and answered questions only with "yes" or "no". It took quite a while before they got used to the fact that they were among Jews who wanted to help them. Nevertheless, the acute danger of informing allowed only very cautious conversations. Incidentally, these people had to confirm that they had been treated well by signing a form when they were released from prison. How "good" the concentration camp treatment was could be made clear enough by the condition of the survivors.

I recorded my medical observations in this regard in a detailed paper, which was printed in English in 1950 in the Acta Medica Orientalica, then published in Jerusalem, with the subtitle "Report of an Epidemic of Hospital-Gangrene". Here I will only briefly state in a form understandable to the layman and easy on the nerves what it was about.

The medical observations I was able to make on the pogrom prison victims were of particular significance in that such cases had occurred only very rarely in my many years of practice. Here, however, we were dealing with mass diseases. What was revealed to us evoked memories of hospital reports by physicians in the Middle Ages about that dreaded epidemic wound infection which, spreading from bed to bed, resisted all attempts at containment and claimed countless victims (the only accurate account of this wound epidemic in modern times is probably that of the war surgeon Warren from the American War of Secession). About sixty of these cases were admitted to the Berlin Jewish Hospital. The real number must have been larger, since certainly many of those who were stricken with the plague in Oranienburg died there before being taken away. The sight of the unfortunates went beyond what even the most hardened among us doctors and nurses were used to enduring. Above all, we had to place them in a separate ward, where we then set up duty shifts of no more than three hours each.

The prisoners who fell ill in this way got their initially minor wounds, which only became serious through the total respectively malicious neglect of any sick service in the concentration camp, mostly while schlepping bricks on foot from one place to another and back again — "because this was the usual activity in the concentration camp." If they were then brought before the SS doctor "on duty", he would only ask: "What? Sick Jews? Let's see!" and ordered, "Bend your arms, walk, march, march!" If then heart patients had fallen down dead, he still asked: "Anyone else sick?" The answer was, "No." He ordered, "Dismissed." The "medical consultation" was over. The doctors who were also imprisoned in the camp could not cope with the wound infections, because they were given neither instruments nor medicines and dressings.

Here we must praise the nursing assistance given to the Jewish prisoners by the Communist sailors who had also been imprisoned in Oranienburg for a much longer time. But against the epidemic, of course, these truly warm-hearted helpers, already very experienced through their long period of suffering, were powerless.

With the greatest difficulty we procured the only drug effective against progressive gangrene — which at that time was reserved primarily for the Air Force — through which, after the death of a third of those admitted, we were able to bring the epidemic to a halt. We had a almost a year to deal with the consequences, including countless plastic surgeries. Today, after we know much more about the deeds and ideas of the Nazis, we may assume that the, in itself almost inexplicable, delivery of the infected to the Jewish Hospital primarily pursued the barbaric purpose, which the mass arrests themselves must have had: to accelerate the emigration of the Jews by shocking them.

In the following period, many more people from Oranienburg came to us with characteristic camp diseases. The camp releases began mainly for those prisoners who had been interceded for from the outside. Priority was given to those whose emigration was assured. The consulates, it must be acknowledged, also gave preferential treatment to visa applications for concentration camp inmates. The staff of the British Consulate General in Berlin, headed by Captain Eduard Folge, who had just become the patron saint of emigrants, behaved in an exemplary manner. The forest named after him in the State of Israel is a worthy monument set to the humanity of a brave friend of the Jews in the most difficult times.

Concentration camps as "pathogens" would provide material enough for further medical and scientific presentations, which, however, do not belong to the immediate context of this report. Numerous sick, mutilated and abused people passed through the Jewish Hospital Berlin, which was the treatment center for the Jews remaining in Germany and the only place of refuge for the many suffering, doubly suffering in those sad times.

On 22 August 1939, I finished my work as head of the surgical department of this hospital. A few days before the beginning of the Second World War, I emigrated to Palestine with my wife.

What the entire hospital staff performed and suffered at that time and until the end is a glorious record in the history of their profession and of the Jews of Germany.

It remains for me to remember two faithful aids in particular, my senior physician Dr. Fischer and my first assistant Dr. Knopp, who worked beside me day and night, encouraged me to emigrate, but persevered at their difficult posts. Dr. Knopp went underground and survived the horrors of those years. Dr. Fischer, however, was deported to Theresienstadt. Shortly before his deportation to Auschwitz, we received a last message from him. Then we never heard from him again. The two faithful sent me and my wife a last greeting after my emotional farewell from the entire hospital staff, which I cannot forget: When I entered the cabin of the "Galiläa" with my wife in Trieste, which was to take us to freedom, a large bouquet of red carnations awaited us there. end-black

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